6 Things to Help Creativity Flourish in the UK

Never have we had so much creative talent in the UK. Our film industry is booming, our West End attracts people from across the world, our architects seed skylines with universally recognisable structures and our designers fill our shops and inspire our fast growing tech ecosystem.

However, it’s getting harder to support creatives. The price of higher education has risen, public funding is drying up, and living costs within our cities have exploded. How can we make sure that creative is supported in the next generation and beyond, and remain global creative leaders?

Creativity has value

Our perception of creativity needs to change.

Organisations such as the DCMS, CIF and BOP Consulting are going a long way to put weight to the industry. It’s now time for our government not just to admit to their value, but to act on that information and invest in creative ecosystems. This can only be beneficial in the long run.

The creative industries already make up 5% of the UK’s GDP with little to no strategic direction. Imagine how it could grow (and in turn help support our economy) with a proper plan and a little support?

Diversity is an asset

Immigration is currently the focus of many heated debates, and is fast becoming the rallying call to leave the EU, but the blanket solution of closing our borders will ultimately kill what makes us great.

It’s been proven there is a direct correlation between diversity and innovation. Diversity is the cornerstone of what makes us creative – ideas coming together to form new ones, skills being swapped, life experiences shared. These factors must be considered when establishing any solution aimed at controlling the free flow of people to the UK.

Space is Key

If London is to retain its creative class, we’re going to need cultivate spaces for them to live and work, and for it to be affordable.

The government could begin by converting some of its unused property portfolio into popup spaces to allow creatives to work. This wouldn’t just allow creativity to thrive, but could reinvigorate certain areas of London.

At the heart of our Education

Ever met a child that isn’t creative? Neither have I. At some point in our development we’re taught out of thinking creatively. It’s time to understand that creativity isn’t a subject in itself, but a way of thinking that can be leveraged across any subject.

We need to move away from cramming facts to allowing students to understand the world they live in, celebrate curiosity and accept alternative methods of expression which may suit their ways of problem solving.

An Entrepreneurial Spirit

The age of focusing solely on your expertise is over. Technology has empowered individuals to have a far reaching voice, while the barrier to entry for registering a company or creating your own brand is lower than ever before.

The only thing missing is the basics understanding of running a business. When leaving education, creatives should have the very basics to be able to subsist and understand the world they inhabit. This should start at an early age, to better equip the next generation in understanding their own financial situations and make better decisions about their future.

Access to Seed Funding

Although the risk of failure is massive, understanding how the creative eco-system operates is vital in allowing us to fund it effectively. Failure often leads to ideas fuelling and inspiring those that ultimately succeed; and make our country so rich in culture.

Funders (private and public) need to embrace many more, smaller risks which will in turn boost the whole eco-system. It’s very important for us to take those risks and support early career creative to give them a chance to put into practice what their educations have taught them. One of the many reasons we are giving away £1,000 to an artist with our Visual Arts Prize. In the best of cases we’ll find our next Antony Gormley; in the worst; we’ll inspire them in their craft.

The Next Economic Powerhouse

All the figures point towards creativity being the next bastion of economic development, yet we’ve been slow to embrace that change.

It’s time to understand that the systems currently in place are no longer fit for the modern world and plan our future accordingly. Only then will the one asset which is currently growing our economy be nurtured accordingly and allow the UK to retain its status in the world stage.

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About the author


Guy Armitage founded Zealous to simplify access to opportunities in the creative sector. He was voted Guardian’s Creative Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013, has discussed the world-changing potential of creativity at TED and in Forbes; and is a proud trustee of Firstsite (Colchester) and Arebyte (London). Prior to Zealous, Guy kept the London Stock Exchange open during the 7/7 bombings and founded a creative startup in Cairo. Contact Guy